Iraqi defense officials say the country aims to strengthen its military
to deal with security challenges following the U.S. troop withdrawal
from Iraqi cities.
Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari told reporters Thursday
Iraq is looking to build its air capabilities to be ready once all U.S.
forces leave Iraq in 2011.
Al-Askari praised Tuesday's withdrawal of U.S. troops from urban areas, saying it took place peacefully without problems.
Thursday, bombings killed at least three people in the Baghdad area, the first such violence since the pull-out.
Authorities say a roadside bomb struck an Iraqi army patrol in the
capital Thursday, killing an Iraqi soldier and wounding at least eight
Officials say at least two people were killed and 15 others wounded in a car bombing south of Baghdad.
A security spokesman in the capital says Iraqi troops are taking all precautions to stop terrorist attacks.
Meanwhile, police in the northern city of Kirkuk say gunmen shot and killed an Iraqi army officer near his home.
The troop withdrawal is part of a U.S.-Iraq security deal that sets a
timeline for the pullout of all U.S. forces by the end of 2011. U.S.
President Barack Obama has pledged to withdraw all combat troops from
Iraq by September of next year, leaving only advisors and trainers.
At present, about 130,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq to conduct combat
duties outside cities, and to advise Iraqi forces within cities.